This is actually something I wrote last year for a publication, but today I received an email which made me think I ought to stick this on line. Before the article let me tell you about today's email. The email that I received today was weird. It was from one of the New York scammers mentioned below.(Abraham Lubelski - 'The NY Arts Magazine' also 'Broadway Gallery' also '"Arts Fairs International also 'World Art Media' and some others) I'd received the standard bullshit email saying how wonderful my work was and wouldn't I like to have my work in a gallery, in a magazine and representation ( for a fee), and I gave it one of my standard replies "Sorry. Abraham Lubelski's reputation goes before him. No thanks." Considering my less polite replies in the past, I thought this pretty harmless, but I received a personal reply. In it Abraham Lubelski insults my work "not too original and mostly self conscious and stylized" and insults the size of my wallet (!!). Apparently if I was a real artist I'd have more money and be happy to hand it over to him!
Anyway, there's loads on the internet about Abraham Lubelski's activities - search google for "abraham lubelski scam" and take a look at "Wet Canvas". Or just take a look at these links - which are just a small selection from the many that exist:
Anyway, here's the article
One of the down sides of being an artist and having an online presence is that you will inevitably at some point become the target of “art scammers” of one sort or another. Scammers feed on artists’ egos, targeting our dreams that we hope we have been recognised by some foreign wealthy collector. Unsurprisingly, many of these emails seem to originate from an African country, but just as many – the more subtle ones – originate in the USA. Today, for example I have received the standard quota of three art scam emails. One of them has come via a well-known website that sells art online, from a person calling himself “Michael Pee” who wants to buy one of my works. It sounded like a scam email, but just to be sure I Googled the name – and sure enough, the name came up as one used on a regular basis by an art scammer.
This scam, one of the most common forms of scamming is carried out in the following way (as described by Kathleen McMahon on her excellent website):
“The scammer does everything they can to trick you into believing they want to buy items from you, a third party shipper is always involved, they often work or are moving to a foreign country, they send a check (often overnight to try and legitimize their scam) or even offer to pay via credit card (which will end up in a chargeback when the real person finds out their number has been stolen) and then pay MORE than the amount due and ask you to send the overpayment back to them, usually via Western Union which is then untraceable once its picked up. Very profitable activity if even only a few people fall victim.”
Another sort of scam comes from more respectable sounding people or organisations in the USA. These scams work in a different way, whilst at the same time appealing to artists’ weakness – their ego. In exchange for cash you are offered one or more of the following: artist “representation”, exhibition(s), publication in a “renowned” art book, publication on line, exhibiting opportunities throughout the world, access to collectors etc.
There appear to be three main organisations carrying out these scams, one on the US west coast and two in New York. For around 1500€ (last time I checked) you’ll get “represented” by having your work appear on a website/in a book/in a gallery - or something. The west coast con-artist emails me on a regular basis asking me for hundreds of dollars to appear in one of their “internationally renowned” publications, and similarly I get regular emails from one of the New York scammers asking if I want to appear in their publication, or buy a year’s “expert” representation. A bit of research has led to a discovery that the scamming organisations actually take on unpaid interns and people working solely on commission to send out their nasty scamming emails for them – which explains why I keep getting emails from different people working for the same organisation.
But there is a third category of scam, which is much easier to fall for: the simple demand for money to exhibit your work – whether it be in a gallery or on-line. A scam? Well, put simply – remember that anyone who takes your money up front to show your work doesn’t care whether you sell anything or not, and have made no investment in your future or your work. There are plenty of websites that will show your work for nothing (although they will probably want commission if they sell anything), and if a gallery doesn’t want to show your work unless you pay them, I can only advise you to keep trying to find one that will. Good luck!
Meanwhile here’s some useful and interesting web links on the subjects covered: